Acura RDX
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Acura’s compact tall wagon has an excellent reputation, but with nothing new about the RDX for two model years now, what’s up?

A 273-horsepower V6 is the standard powerplant; six-speed automatic transmission takes care of the gear changing.

The RDX is fighting in one of the most hotly contested categories around, but acquits itself well against its competitors. These include the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Cadillac SRX, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Land Rover Evoque and Volvo XC60, not to mention the newest kid on the block, the surprising Lexus NX. The significant physical adjustments that were introduced for the 2013 model year were simply the overture to the sweet sounds of a 3.5-liter V6 that replaced the turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder. The V6 puts out 273 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque, compared to 240 horses and 260 pound-feet of torque for the 2.3. More importantly, fuel consumption was ramped up to 19 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway (20/28 for front-wheel-drive models), up from 17/22 and 19/24 (FWD) for the old RDX. A six-speed automatic transmission — one more gear than was used with the turbo four — also helped improve the mpg rating, but so did other fuel-conserving innovations, including the use of low-viscosity engine and transmission oil, a special friction-reducing coating on the pistons and Variable Cylinder Management that allows the engine to operate with two or three of its six cylinders shut down under light-load conditions. Above and beyond its powertrain efficiencies, the RDX features wind-cheating aerodynamics, fuel-saving electric power steering and fuel pump, and low-rolling-resistance tires. The RDX no longer employs Acura’s very effective Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). However, the replacement system, called AWD with Intelligent Control, has its own merits, sending 25 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels when accelerating from a stop, up to 100 percent to the front wheels at a steady speed and splitting the torque 50:50 when heading up a 15-percent (or greater) slope. It can’t send extra torque to the outside turning wheels like the SH-AWD could, but that’s at least partially offset by electronic power-steering and traction-control systems that reduce front- or rear-end plowing while turning, commonly referred to as understeer and oversteer. The RDX follows Acura’s traditional formula of offering plenty of luxury content, including a power moonroof, leather-covered interior, power-adjustable front seats and a 360-watt audio system. An optional Tech Package adds a navigation /rearview camera combo, and a premium ELS-brand 10-speaker sound system.